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2013 Business Plan

Consistent with the directions Council provided at the start of the Business Planning process, the draft 2013 budget included a 4.1% property tax increase. Recognizing that Council may want to reduce the increase, staff identified a number of service adjustments for Council's consideration and included them in the Business Plan. In addition, further adjustments were identified in the report staff prepared that was considered by General Committee at its January 21, 2013 meeting.  During its deliberations Council passed a variety of amendments that included some of the adjustments staff identified and introduced new changes to both service levels and planned revenues. As a result, the approved 2013 property tax increase was 3.3%. The 2013 Business Plan Consolidated Motion document identifies all of the changes made to the draft Business Plan.

Use the following table of contents to view the 2013 Business Plan & 2013 – 2021 Capital Plan in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. This document, along with the Discussion Paper, is also available for public viewing in a hard-copy format at the City Clerk’s Office or Finance Department, 70 Collier Street, 1st Floor.  If an alternate format is required, please contact (705) 739-4204.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
2013 Capital Budget
Operating Budget Details
Council Expenditures
Program Change Forms
Other Expenses
Service Partners and Grants
Water User Rate Based Budget
Wastewater User Rate Based Budget
Parking Rate Based Budget
Proposed Fee Changes
Capital Budget Details
Glossary

2013 Business Plan Development Schedule

August–Nov 2012 Staff produce workplans, draft operating, capital and rate budgets; informal updates with the Finance and Corporate Services Committee will occur throughout the development schedule
October 2012 Public engagement opportunities underway
December 2012 2013 Business Plan distributed to Council
January 2013 Committee/Council review and approval


Business Plan Q & A's

Following Council’s direction, staff at The City of Barrie is working to prepare the 2013 Business Plan.  The 2013 Business Plan addresses Council's direction to develop a budget that not only describes how we plan to use the resources entrusted to us, but also describes the goals and objectives we intend to achieve.  As the process moves forward, many questions arise surrounding the use of tax dollars and how decisions are made.  Please find below the answers to some common questions that we have received. 

Why is so much attention given to the City of Barrie’s budget?

When City Council approves the budget, it is approving a plan that describes the local government services and service levels to be provided throughout 2013.  In other words, it is the City’s business plan for the coming year.  It describes how the City will pay for the plan - through a combination of property taxes, user fees and funds received from other levels of government and where the money will go to provide programs and services.  It is a key accountability document, and will be available for download in the coming months once complete.

Aren’t property taxes high enough already?

Actually, the City of Barrie’s property taxes are not out of line with other Ontario municipalities.  For example, compared to other Ontario municipalities with more than 100,000 residents, a detached bungalow in Barrie pays approximately 10% less property tax than a similar property in other cities.  Property taxes are based on Council’s decisions about the types of services and service levels that should be provided, and about the degree to which user fees should be used to pay for them.

How does my new Property Assessment affect my property taxes?

An increase in your assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in property taxes.  Residential property values in the City of Barrie have increased an average of 8% since 2008 when the last assessment update was completed.  Assuming no new tax increases, if your property assessment is equal to the average, then there would be no effect on the property’s tax bill.  The assessment increase is phased in over 4 years starting in 2013, with average increase of 2% per year.

How do I know the City is providing good quality services for the taxes I pay?

City Council considers several factors when deciding how to balance the sometimes competing priorities of residents who want more or better service and others who want government to cost less.  It is not an easy task, so we have developed several measures to compare our performance.  One of the ways we are measuring our performance is by participating in the Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI).   OMBI provides valid, rigorous performance comparisons between the City of Barrie’s services and other Ontario municipalities.  The City’s 2013 Business Plan includes details about services and service levels to assist Council with determining the appropriate mix of service levels, fees and property taxation.

What is Barrie doing to make services more efficient?

Barrie is one of 15 municipalities in Ontario that participates in an annual benchmarking exercise to compare the efficiency, service levels and quality of local government services.  This provides information that could help identify improvements based on practices other cities are using to provide the same services.  What we’ve learned so far is that our service levels and efficiency generally compare favourably with other cities.  Every city makes its own choices about what’s most important, but overall Barrie has a low-cost, efficient municipal government.

How does the City determine what takes priority when deciding the budget? (what gets done, what doesn’t)

The City has a comprehensive planning and project prioritization process to identify the best place to use its limited financial resources.  While several factors are considered, the objective of the process is to identify the most critical spending needs based on an evaluation of previous directions from Council, expected service levels, condition of existing assets, and the risk and impact of service disruptions. 

Subject to Council’s discussions, the budget will be approved at its January 28th 2013 meeting.  Following the passing of the budget, watch for a ‘Budget Special Edition’ in local newspapers in the weeks following that will highlight key components of the 2013 Business Plan.

Is the City in debt?  How are we addressing that?

Yes, the city is managing some debt which is typical for most municipalities.  The City can issue debt to pay for infrastructure projects, but there are limits on how much debt we can take on.  When a spending decision provides benefits for many years into the future – like a new building, for example – paying for it with debt can make sense.  But the interest we pay for borrowing uses money that would otherwise go to paying for routine programs and services, so Council uses great care when deciding whether to issue debt to pay for something.

In recent years, the City of Barrie has undergone an unprecedented period of construction and infrastructure renewal. By maintaining, upgrading and improving the City’s aging infrastructure, the city will continue to grow and respond to the needs of residents.  In 2011, a couple of major ‘one-off’’ projects came online for Barrie which included the Surface Water Treatment Plant as well as the sewage treatment plant. 

The 2013 Business Plan details how services can be maintained with our current level of debt while keeping taxes affordable. There are several factors taken into account when creating a plan like this.   We look at the necessity of the proposed project, the risk to service levels if not undertaken, as well as any on-going costs once the project is complete.  We are one of very few municipalities who have embarked on a comprehensive Long Range Financial Plan that addresses the need for debt management. 

How can I get involved with the 2013 Budget process?

It is very easy to get involved and provide your feedback.  You can send us your comments through email at budgetquestion@barrie.ca or watch for other public engagement opportunities that will be listed on this page including live call in shows on Rogers as well as other special appearances from City staff  who can answer your questions.

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